East Lansing City Clerk Marie Wicks has a message for voters: registering for an absentee ballot is one of the easiest things you’ll do this election season.
Wicks said students are consistently surprised at how simple the process is.
“That’s what I’ve heard over and over and over,” she said. “Students came in and they were like, ‘I can’t believe this is so easy, I didn’t need to show a birth certificate.’ Nope. Just need to show your ID, that’s it.”
Voters are able to register for this year’s election until Oct. 11, and according to www.michigan.gov, registered voters can obtain an absentee ballot if they meet any of these qualifications:
-Age 60 years or older
-Unable to vote without assistance at the polls
-Expecting to be out of town on Election Day
-In jail awaiting arraignment or trial
-Unable to attend the polls due to religious reasons
-Appointed to work as an election inspector in a precinct outside of your precinct of residence.
There is also a misconception that first-time voters and students are not eligible to vote absentee, and Wicks said that isn’t true.
“It’s absolutely an option that’s open to students,” she said.
Michigan State University senior Maria Buckner might be one of those students. Buckner is from Waterford, so she is planning to register for an absentee ballot but isn’t sure what to expect.
“Honestly, I have no clue. I don’t have any information about it. I just think I’m going to go to, like, maybe the secretary of state or maybe just the clerk’s office. Or the police department and ask for one, then give my ID and fill out some paperwork,” Buckner said.
Voters who would like to register absentee need to go to the city clerk’s office in City Hall, located at 410 Abbot Rd.
MSU graduate student Marie Orttenburger isn’t planning to vote absentee this election, because she’s from Grand Rapids and intends to vote there, but Orttenburger has used an absentee ballot in the past and said the most difficult part of the process was finding out who to contact and where to go.
“Then it’s really not that challenging, when you get into it,” she said. “Once I got the ballot it was fine, it’s easy.”
Wicks also said voting using an absentee ballot is a great option for students whether they’re local or from out-of-state.
“I encourage students—if they think that they may be out of town or can’t get to the polling location, or they’ve got a busy day—to come on in and vote absentee,” Wicks said.
Registered absentee voters can vote starting on Monday, Oct. 3 and they can turn in their ballot until eight o’clock on Election Day, Wicks said.
Once voters are registered to vote absentee and receive their ballots, they can mail their absentee ballot into the City Clerk’s office, drop it off in the City Clerk’s office between 8 a.m. and 5 p.m. Monday through Friday, or drop it off in the polling box in City Hall’s parking lot.
Wicks also has an additional piece of advice for voters: know where you’re registered.
“I would hate to see someone stand in line for – hopefully it’s not more than a half an hour – but, for any period of time and then find out that they’re registered in Marquette, and they can’t vote here. They just can’t,” she said.
Voters are assigned a polling location based on where they live geographically, Wicks said.
For more information, visit www.cityofeastlansing.com/elections.